St. Louis Cardinals Use Their Eyes to Open Clubhouse Doors at Busch Stadium

    By Kathleen Berger, Executive Producer for Science & Technology

    Not only is the St. Louis Cardinals among the best in baseball, members of the organization are also innovators with a ‘vision’ for the future of security. The St. Louis Cardinals claimed to be the first in Major League Baseball to use iris recognition technology.

    “There’s a couple of players who talk about ‘Star Trek’, the whole futuristic side of everything,” said Stanley Ruchalski, project manager for the Cardinals.

    The iris is the color portion of the eye. It’s the muscle regulating the size of the pupil, controlling the amount of light entering the eye. Iris recognition identifies a person by analyzing the random and complex pattern of the iris, which is unique to the individual.

    “You really can think of it as a fingerprint. It’s entirely unique. Its nothing that can be duplicated,” said Ruchalski.

    Only the sets of eyes in the team’s database can open layers of the home clubhouse doors at Busch Stadium. Iris recognition is used to gain entry to designated areas for players, coaches and staff.

    “To be in their work environment and not have the distractions and not have anyone else wandering through there when they really shouldn’t be,” said Ruchalski.

    The Cardinals use camera technology to capture the individual’s dual-iris image. At the door, the iris reader sends an infrared beam of light to the eye acquiring the detailed structure of the iris. In seconds, the match is made and the door is unlocked.

    “You don’t even see it. There is no beam, so to speak, explained Phil Melcher, director of security for the Cardinals. “You’re not seeing anything pass across (the eyes) or anything like that.”

    He explained the technology will only make a match with a functioning eye, as the iris performs this biometric verification. For Melcher, having a system that denies lying eyes is a system he can trust.

    “By going with the biometric technology, you’re never going to be without your eyeballs when you’re carrying bags in, you don’t have to set anything down,” said Ruchalski.

    In recent years, iris recognition is one of many new security measures. Others include a new security camera system and explosive detection canines. Melcher said the St. Louis Cardinals is recognized for having best security practices by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The organization was awarded the Department’s Safety Act Certification.

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